When does a zombie story become interesting again, after the glut that’s thicker than the goo between the undead’s ears? Answer: Dead Aware, a tale that’s enjoyable from start to finish, and was an unexpected pleasure. Told from the points of view of an undead couple—okay, that was enough to hook me from the get-go—Merry’s story chronicles Clara and Max Jacobs from living to dead to undead to… whatever.
A strange virus—F.I.R.E. (Fever Induced Rapid Encephalitis) hits the world hard—and fast. Like many zombie novels, the onset is pretty standard, but that’s where the fun begins. Both Max and Clara succumb to the affliction while separated at different ends of Canad— him in Toronto and her in British Columbia. Through the help of Jay (a fascinating character that truly helps “flesh” out this story—not sorry for that), he recovers slightly and begins to speak again, think again, and remember his love for Clara.
He embarks on the journey to find her, a trek that’s wrought with obstacles that would stop most of the living. Being undead comes with its own bevy of obstacles, yet he’s determined to get back home—without devouring any humans on the way.
Meanwhile, Clara is captured and tested by a military group that wants them dead. Rachel, a scientist who knows something about this virus, is dead set (again, not sorry) on finding a cure for this—or at least a way to help the afflicted to “live” in society peacefully. The relationship between the two women brings yet another dimension to the novel that separates it from most of its kind.
Merry has written a story that deserves to be read, by fans of the undead or simply those who enjoy their horror with a heart. Her writing is solid and intriguing. The characters ring authentic—creating empathy for the undead is pretty tough to accomplish yet she pulls it off in just 154 pages. As this is the start of a series, it will be intriguing to see where the story heads next.
Another new writer to watch.